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Inspired by Tragedy

Inspired by Tragedy
October 23
00:00 2014
(pictured above:  TaWanna Archia)

Domestic violence education group holding first program

A new organization is working to equip women – young and old – with tools and knowledge to escape or avoid domestic violence.

TaWanna Archia started My Sister’s Keeper, a faith-based organization dedicated to the health and healing of women, after a fellow Mount Calvary Holy Church member was killed in August.

Authorities say Cheryl Bethea, 42, was stabbed outside of her home by her boyfriend. Bethea’s daughter and grandson were in the home at the time.

Archia was upset when she heard the news and wondered what she could have done had she known her friend was in a violent relationship.

“She was not someone that you would’ve put in that type of situation. She was always happy, always smiling,” Archia said. “One of the things that challenged me as a church member and as a fellow sister in Christ was how did I miss the signs. How was I not able to assist her with what she was dealing with?”

That type of thinking spurred Archia to action. Her organization will hold its first event – a domestic violence symposium – on Saturday, Oct. 25.

“It all fell together really quickly. I put up a message on Facebook about wanting to do this and some women began telling me they were interested. We started meeting last month and had a few meetings,” Archia said. “We wanted to keep it in October because it is Domestic Violence Awareness month.”

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will be at the Malloy/Jordan Heritage Center Library, 1110 E. Seventh St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature representatives from Family Services, the Winston-Salem Police Department’s Domestic Violence Unit, the Hidden Jewel Project of N.C. and several domestic abuse survivors.

“Even though it is a tough topic, we want to be able to open up a place for the dialogue to begin,” Archia said. “We want to get the conversation started and let them know about the resources that are available.”

Latisha Alford worked with Bethea and participated alongside her in the exercise group Black Girls Run!

Latisha Alford

Latisha Alford

“She was a very chipper person, always smiling and was always a very positive person,” Alford said. “She was always up for a challenge on the pavement. One of her favorite routes was a very hilly route, that most people don’t like, but she loved that route.”

Alford thinks running was a release for Bethea, who she says was empowered to help other women see the benefits of exercise and sisterhood – hallmarks of BGR!

“She saw something in Black Girls Run! that she liked. This was an outlet for Cheryl, and she came to take advantage of it.”

BGR! has partnered with the Bethea family and other organizations to bring awareness to domestic violence. Alford said educating the public is essential. Archia agrees.

In talking to survivors, Archia found that many abused women don’t know that there are shelters and other resources available to them.

“We want to provide the resources and connections. Then we want to get them in a safe place and create the conversations that can led to their spiritual, physical and emotional healing,” she said. “Some women don’t know about shelters, how to get a 50-B (restraining order), and don’t even know that the police department has a domestic violence unit. Part of this is just making them aware and educating them on what is available.”

Archia said she also wants women to know that that there is a community that will stand with them.
“They are not alone, and they didn’t do anything wrong. We are here as fellow sisters, and there are women that care about them and their safety enough to be able to be available in the event that they need assistance,” she said.

For more information, email chosenvesselconsulting@nullgmail.com or look for the organization on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wsimmysisterskeeper.

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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